Kosovo & Georgia top agenda at UN General Assembly

The issue of Serbia's breakaway republic of Kosovo has been discussed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Meanwhile, Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili has strongly criticised Russia, accusing Moscow of interfering in his country's do

Background of the Russia-Georgia conflict

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has met with Serbian President Boris Tadic. The Russian delegation says Lavrov and Tadic agreed on the necessity of solving the problem of Kosovo’s future in accordance with international law.   Both men also agreed that any decision on the province should be supported by the UN Security Council.

Serbia's President Boris Tadic
Serbia's President Boris Tadic

The first direct meeting between senior Serbian and Albanian officials is due to take place on Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.  The United States, the European Union and Russia will act as mediators in the discussions.

The Russian delegation says there's a good chance a compromise may be reached in negotiatons.

Russia intends to keep up its active role in the process of regulating Kosovo's status. It supports dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in search of a deal.

Meanwhile, events at the UN indicate that the relationship between Russia and Georgia is deteriorating. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili addressed the General Assembly on the issue.

“Our most challenging relationship today remains with our neighbours in the Russian Federation, which continues to interfere in our domestic politics. A senior Russian official made an unconstructive, unsubstantiated, and wholly untrue accusation that Georgian forces killed two innocent people in upper Abkhazia,” Mikhail Saakashvili stressed.

Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili
Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili

Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, gave a different account of last week's incident to the Security Council.

Russia says soldiers training at Abkhazia's anti-terrorist training centre near the border with Georgia were attacked by Georgian forces.  Moscow says Russian instructors on contract to the training centre were stabbed and shot to death.

“This to us is another manifestation of the course of action which regrettably the Georgian authorities have taken lately in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and in other conflict situations in Georgia. They have been doing everything to aggravate tensions,” said Vitaly Churkin.

The incident on 20 September is being investigated by the UN and peacekeepers in the area.

Background of the Russia-Georgia conflict

This is not the first time Russia has come under attack from Georgia.

A year ago, a spy scandal erupted between the two countries, taking relations to their lowest ebb since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The conflict began when four Russian officers were detained in Georgia in September 2006. They were charged with spying for Moscow. The Kremlin was indignant at the arrest. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Georgia's actions 'anti-Russian'. Eventually the officers were released.

However, relations between the two countries deteriorated dramatically as a result of the incident.

Russia recalled its ambassador from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, for several months, cut air and post communications with Georgia, and stopped granting visas to Georgian citizens.

The issuing of visas has since been partially resumed.